Week 5


Analyse critically the following statement by Mark Zuckerberg while comparing it to privacy issues raised by online social networking collaborative practices:

Here Mark Zuckerberg the creator of Facebook talks in detail about the new controls that have been established, to make it more simple to organize the information that you share with others. He goes on to state that these new aspects enhance our control but ultimately enable us to feel comfortable, and allow us to become more open and connected. He reasserts that these new functions reduce the information that is readily available to everyone, and a master control allows us to feel that we are effortlessly able to manage our own profile.

When thinking about the issues raised by Zuckerberg it seemed apparent that there will always be privacy issues associated with social networking sites. This is due to that fact that people are readily sharing personal information, and in the wrong hands this can be detrimental to the individual. This is why he emphasises the importance of having control as when putting out our information on the net, we need to keep in mind that we are creating an online profile or history that can be accessed by others. A blog I found examines how the “sudden tsunami of personal data available online — published voluntarily,” has made it unclear as to what companies should and shouldn’t have access to. (Bell 2011) This is alluded to in the video as Zuckerberg states that these new controls make it easy to turn off platform applications, and by doing so one’s personal information is not available to websites for their personal gain.

What is made clear is that we may have control but I don’t think we will ever have total privacy. The blog post explores the idea that Zuckerberg give us the tools to manage our own account, and effectively control what we are allowing others to see. The key word being control, as our information is not entirely secure. Individuals will only have privacy in the sense that they have “control over information,’ as information is private ‘because the knowing is limited’ (Boyd 3008, 18). However Solove asserts that the ease at which information can be accessed, means that it is inevitable that there will be times when information that is intended to be kept on ‘a short leash,’ will slip out of our hands (29).

I think it is vital to have an understanding of our online history, as through enabling the free flow of our personal lives onto the public sphere of the internet, we are leaving behind a mass of data which can be tracked. This article examines how privacy and social norms have been altered by forms of social media.  The article goes on to mention the ability for third-party applications to gain access to our information, and piece together information about our personal life to create an interpretation of our identity. This abuse of our information is certainly unsettling, and highlights the need for such control of our own data that is shared. It raises a serious issue, that reasserts the dangers of sharing the private onto the public forum, and causes us to question whether we should even be part of such social networking sites. Without pictures, birthdates, events and contact details readily accessible to all we would be much safer, as we would be comfortable in saying that we had legitimate control of the information we wished to divulge to others.


(2009) ‘Leaving Friendprints:’ How Online Social Networks Are Redefining Privacy and Personal Security,’Knowledge@Wharton, retrieved May 25, 2011, http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2262

Bell, L. (2011) ‘Is Online Privacy…Dead?’ Radian6, retrieved May 25, 2011, http://www.radian6.com/blog/2011/02/is-online-privacy-dead/

Boyd, D. (2008) ‘Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion and Social Convergence,’Convergence: The International Journal into New Media Technologies, 14 (4): 18.

Solove, D. ‘How the Free Flow of Information Liberates and Constrains Us,’ The Future of Reputation: Gossip, Rumour and Privacy on the Internet, New Haven: Yale University Press, p 29.

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